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* 0CT1 


of the 

U.S. Department of 


In the middle of the 19th century, when the Georgia families who 
had settled in the middle of the state began to migrate, they followed 
the western route. Only a few went into South Georgia, for that area 
was then considered a swampy, malaria infested place. It had a good 
deal of pine timber, but was seldom thought of as a farming country. 

Consequently, south Georgia was slow to develop. Early in the 
1800' s it had been cut into large counties and large tracts of the 
land were granted to individuals. But at that time, aside from cut- 
ting out some of the pine, little was done to develop the country. A 

handful of towns were built, but they remained small. One of the 
earliest of the towns to be settled was Irwinville, county seat of 
Irwin County. 

At the time of the Civil War, most of the land around Irwinville 
was owned by R. V/. Clements, a cotton planter. About 1890 he died, 
and the plantation — which included more than 10,000 acres of farm 
land, pine woods, and swamp — together with most of the village lots 
and buildings, was turned over to his son, J. B. Clements. Irwinville 
continued to be a one-man town. J. B. Clements was the first man in 
Irwin County to receive a college degree; he also was Worshipful Master 
of the local Masonic Lodge, Judge of the County court, and acknowledged 
leader of the community. 

- 2 - 

In 1908 the county seat was moved to another nearby town, Oscilla, 
which was served "by a railroad as well as a main highway. This left 
Irwinville and J. B. Clements stranded. Fitzgerald, Oscilla, and the 
other towns that were springing up nearby were following the quickening 
pace the rest of the country was setting — new means of transportation, 
new ways of farming. 

Irwinville had lost its court house. It still had its land, hut 
J. B. Clements was not much of a farmer. He had spent much of his 
time and money in a desperate effort to hang on to the county seat; 
he was, and always had been, head over heels in politics. He spent 
the rest of hi9 life getting elected to and serving in the General 
Assembly of the State of Georgia. The land was either left idle, or 
farmed by a few croppers the best way they could. In 1929 Clements 
went bankrupt. 

When the estate was settled, an insurance company obtained 3,000 
acres of the farm land, and three local business men formed a corpora- 
tion to buy up the rest. The town at this time consisted of one empty 
court house; one abandoned jail; a few old houses; a small cement 
block building formerly occupied by a bank, now bankrupt; an old post 
office; a couple of combination gas stations and groceries, two 
churches; a two story brick schoolhouse; the ancient Clements Mansion; 
a small turpentine mill; about twenty Negro shacks; and an old hotel. 
The corporation took over the management of all the farm land, built 
about 25 sharecropper shacks, and filled most of them with tenant 

families, which raised cotton and tobacco. A couple of village families 
put in their time running the gas stations; a few more owned little 
farms on the outskirts; a few owned skinny, poor-bred cattle that 
grazed on the open range. 

The world outside, however, had changed a good deal. Back in 1908, 
when Irwinville lost the county seat, South Georgia was fast "becoming 
settled, and in the next few years it experienced a rising tide of 
prosperity. Then, after the War and the Depression, South Georgia 
along with the rest of the nation — particularly the nation's farmers 
— started the long slide downwards. Low farm prices, loss of foreign 
markets, erosion, drought, floods, collapse of credit, ill-health, 
mechanization, the one-crop system, the "boll weevil, the corn borer, 
tenancy, and other calamities closed in on America's farmers. In the 
Spring of 1935, more than a million and a half farm families made less 
than $500 a year — including all food they grew for home use. A 
large part of the world had settled back almost to Irwinville' s level. 

Not everyone had fallen behind, it is true. Those who were still 
able to get credit, and who had good land, machinery and the advantages 
of education, continued to make a fair and sometimes excellent living. 
It was this group that had taken over the job of supplying the nation's 
agricultural needs. By this tine more than 90 per cent of the country's 
farm products were being marketed by about 50 per cent of the nation's 

The other half of the farmers, however, needed help. The causes 

of their distress had "been forning for twenty to fifty years — many 
of then were inherent in the ways in which they and their fathers 
had always lived — and they were not something that could be remedied 
individually or in a day. The bottom half of the nation's farm families 
was handicapped by lack of money, tools, land and education. 

iMost of these families had always depended upon their landlord 
for the plow, mule, se^d and fertilizer they needed to make a living. 
At the depth of the depression, their landlords were no longer able 
to furnish these essentials. One of them, for instance, had this 
typical story to tell: 

One day he met a former landlord of his in town. "You've been 
working on CWA haven't you?" said the landlord. "Have you saved any 
of the money?" The farmer said that no, he guessed he hadn't. "Well, 
I had hoped you had," the landlord said, "I'd like to give you a farm, 
but I can't furnish you myeelf." 

A few of these farmers had owned at least part of the necessary 
tools and workstock at one time or another, but the long string of 
circumstances — one-crop farming, low farm prices, constantly shift- 
ing residence — had wiped them out, financially. They needed help, 
and more important still, they needed a change in their way of living. 
Share cropping, even with good land, good tools, and credit, had not 
brought them very much in the old days. In the depression world, it 
would bring them even less. 



- 5 - 

These farm families were scattered all over the country. Irwinville 
in a general way, lacked what all the distressed areas lacked. It 
did have, however, many of the essentials upon which a sound farming 
system could be "built. 

A report, drawn up before the Government 1 s effort was begun, 
stated that there were approximately 2,000 acres of cleared level and 
gently rolling land in and about the town. The uncleared area suitable 
for cultivation was about 1,000 acres. The remainder was swamp, flat- 
woods, sandhills, and land too steep for cultivation. In general, the 
cleared land was rated as good and most of the fields were in a good 
state of cultivation and of average fertility. The greatest problem 
was the fact that about half of the cleared land needed terracing to 
check further erosion. 

There was a grammar school in town; it was greatly overcrowded. 
The nearest high school was four miles away at Mystic. 

There were 25 farm houses around the town. Most of these had been 
built or extensively repaired when the land passed into new hands after 
the Clements bankruptcy. They were frame, four or five room buildings, 
of a typical share-cropper cabin pattern, and nearly all of them were 
badly in need of repair. The weakness of the share- cropping system, 
with its constantly shifting tenants, was demonstrated by the fact that 
neither landlord nor tenants had maintained the value of investment in 
land and buildings. 


- 6 - 

For cotton markets there were Oscilla, nine miles away, popula- 
tion 2,500; Tifton, 17 miles, population 5,000; Fitzgerald, 9 miles, 
population 5,000. Tifton was a leading truck growing center and was 
served by three main railroads. It was also a large tobacco market 
and the center of plant-growing farms. 

The census showed thrt Irwin County was, from a farming viewpoint, 
above the state average in value of farms and acreage of farm land in 
cul tivation.* 

In brief the people of Irwinville, Irwin County and other parts 
of the nation had some of the means of self-support, but lacked tools, 
training, credit; most important of all they lacked a way of getting 
them. In 1933, the Federal Government undertook to help. By 1934, a 
tiny part of the Government's effort centered itself on Irwinville. 

♦Following are some points taken from the 1935 Census : 

20 per cent of farm operators in Irwin are Negroes; 30 percent in 

Georgia are Negroes. 
82 per cent of Irwin County's land is in farms; 67 per cent of 

Georgia is in farms. 
123 acres is average size of farm in Irwin County. 

86 acres is average size of farm in Georgia. 
4 times as many te2iants as owners in Irwin. 
2.2 tines as many tenants as owners in Georgia. 
Average value of land and buildings per farm $2300 in Irwin - a 

drop from $3200 in 1930. 
Average value of land and buildings per farm $1700 in Georgia - 

a drop from $2600 in 1930. 
Georgia has 159 counties; Irwin has l/l54 of the state's farms. 
State has 250,544 farms; Irwin County has 1,622 farms. 
Only nine Georgia counties raise more tobacco; 
About one- third of the Georgia counties raise more cotton. 
About 6 persons per farm for both Irwin County and the State. 
Irwin has 2.4 cows over 2 years old per farm.. 
Georgia has 2.2 cows over 2 years old per farm. 

- 7 - 


All through 1934 the Georgia Rehabilitation Corporation, with the 
help of Federal funds, had "been helping the worst hit of the farmers 
to get "back on their feet. Its practice was to take a tenant or 
sharecropper off the relief rolls and loan him a few hundred dollars — 
just enough to make a crop. In this, it v/as simply taking over the work 
that the landlords and banks could no longer carry on. It also tried 
to give him whatever guidance he needed in farm management. 

One of the Rehabilitation Corporation's greatest problems was to 
find good land for borrowing families to work. When their local agents 
first looked at Irwinville, it was with this single purpose in mind; 
here was a good-sized tract of land, that might very well support a 
group of the agency's clients. 

In November of 1934, the Rehabilitation Corporation selected 
W. P. Bryan and sent him to Irwinville to see what could be done. Bryan 
was a capable farmer from nearby Tift County. He had been chosen a 
Master Farmer and was the "dirt farmer" member of the Georgia Rural 
Rehabilitation Corporation board of directors. Under his direction the 
Georgia Rehabilitation Corporation bought the farm land and the share- 
cropper shacks of J. B. Clements' successors. It took over what mules 
and plows and wagons the Tri-Farm Corporation had been using, and 
bought most of the village lots and buildings. 

Bryan's first job was to get the land under option. Because so 
much of it was in one tract this was accomplished fairly rapidly. Then 

the new families began to arrive, sent "by local relief agencies or 
directed "by the rumor that the Government was renting some farms. Many 
of them were "broke; Bryan had to lend some of them money from his own 
pocket, so they could eat and keep alive. 

These families had all been on reliof , and the brief facts of 
their past had already been officially recorded by the case workers: 
their ages, where they had lived, and in a very brief way, how they 
had lived. The case workers had added a few paragraphs of their own 
about the families' traits, characteristics, and habits as observed in 
home visits. With these case histories in hand, and after seeing and 
talking with the families, Bryan selected as many families as the tract 
would accommodate. 

In June, 1935, the newly created Resettlement Administration took 
over the work of the Georgia Rehabilitation Corporation and most of the 
similar corporations throughout the country. The major work of the 
state corporations had been to extend production credit to needy far- 
mers. Resettlement, too, faced the huge problem of supplying credit 
and good land to the small farmers. It continued to devote the major 
portion of its time and money to that problem. But Resettlement pro- 
posed to do more at Irwinville. 

The Resettlement Administration, saw in Irwinville, a chance to go 
a step farther. Here the physical shell of a community was already in 
existence. Since the Government owned all the land, the farmers could 
be given a chance to plan ahead for two, three, ten years. At Irwinville 



in other words, farmers would have a chance to use all of the tools, 
physical, and social that they could devise. 

The rehabilitation corporation had started a similar community 
development in several other localities, "but they had "been limited by 
the short length of time from carrying the experiments very far* 

There were several plans for developing Irwinville. One was to 
bunch all of the farmhouses inside the village proper. This would cut 
the cost of wells and other facilities to a minimum, make it easier 
for the children to attend school, and make it easier to establish 
community feeling and relationships. It might even be possible to 
work out some system whereby the farm land would be worked as one unit, 
with vast savings in the cost of fencing and barns and tools. This 
plan, however, was discarded. 

Instead, the more conventional plan of individual farms, scattered 
around the town was used. Every farm a separate unit. The farms 
ranged from 50 to 100 acres. Both the size of the family and the type 
of farming determined the size of the farm. The families who went in 
heavily for truck farming did not need a large farm. 

Monthly reports from the project showed its development during 
succeeding months. 

In October, 1935, the County superintendent of schools reported 
that, due to the increased number of students, another teacher had 
been added, but the school term had been cut from 6 to 5 months. 

In November, about 13 families left the project. Four of these 


- 10 - 

families were "discontinued". The others left of their own accord. 

In December, 1935, the Construction Division of the Resettlement 
Administration took over the construction work. 

In January, 1936, the families who had left in the fall were 

Not many families were added to the total accommodated, because 
there were no houses, as yet, to put them in. 

When fall of 1936 came there still was no great change in the ap- 
pearance of Irwinville. But there was a substantial change in the way 
the families were farming. 

Supervision had always played a part in the lives of the families, 
but now it had moved to the foreground. The Government had hired 
skilled technicians to help the Irwinville farmers. These people — the 
man a farm manager, and tl.3 woman, a home economist — i\rere local people 
of a very practical sort. 

They helped the families make out farm plans. In these plans, the 
families provided not only for the cover crops and permanent pastures 
that would save the strength of their soil, but also for a variety of 
cash crops, and production of most of their own food supply. The home 
economist worked with the farm wives, teaching them to can fruit and 
vegetables for winter use, and plan balanced diets for their family in 
all seasons of the year. 

This type of planning was new to most of them, but even stranger 
was the system of cost accounting the farm manager urged them to set up. 



- 11 - 

Both farmer and farm wife were urged to fill out record "books, putting 
down item "by item the goods they produced and the money they spent. 

In November of 1936 a registered nurse was hired by the Govern- 
ment. The nurse Couldn't take the place of a doctor; but she could 
treat many minor ailments and could offer complete preventive care, 
which checked many of the diseases that weakened the families. 

The 8pring of 1937 found 62 families working the project land. 
The Government loaned them funds for operating expenses. These Spring 
loans were a carry over from the old tenant and sharecropper system, 
under which each year, the plantation owner or furnish merchant ad- 
vanced the families enough supplies to enable them to plant their crop 
and keep going until Fall. But there was a difference. Not only did 
the Government charge lower interest rates, but the farm plans the 
families followed placed them each year in a better position to finance 
their own work. This showed up clearly when the loans were made. 

The loans, for instance, in the Spring of 1937, averaged about 
$340. The largest part of this — 41 per cent — went for farm operat- 
ing items, such as seed and fertilizer. The next largest amount was 
22 per cent for livestock; then 18 per cent for machinery; 16 per cent 
for subsistence; and 2 per cent for household furnishings. 

A glance at these items told a great deal. The diversified farm 
program for instance, showed up in the livestock item. The Irwinville 
farmers were buying beef cattle to supplement their crop income. The 
subsistence item indicated that already the families were able to supply 


* 12 - 

more of their own needs. Under the old system these families usually 
needed an advance for food and clothing about as large as their allow- 
ance for farm operations. 

The first week in May, 1937, was set aside as National Health 
Week and Irwinville had a full-day celebration that started out with a 
baby contest in the morning, followed by a parade and a picnic lunch 
at noon. In the afternoon the community baseball team won a victory 
over a neighboring town, playing in suits made by the project women. 

In the same month, three project children were graduated from the 
high school at the nearby town of Mystic. 

In June, 1937, the canning program reached a high point. 

With the project's two pressure cookers stowed in her car the 
home supervisor drove from house to house helping the farm wives fill 
their jars. Snap beans, lima beans, black eyed peas, squash, beets and 
beet pickles, cucumber pickles and chow chow, berries, jam and jelly 
and peaches were canned for use throughout the winter. A small co-op 
cannery had been erected near the community center, and it was also 
put into operation to supplement the home canning. 

During the summer of 1937, social activities began to expand. 
A Better Homes and Gardens club met twice a week. There were Wednes- 
day night dances in the community center. On Thursday night there was 
group singing. With the girls out of school, the home supervisor took 
several of them over to the WPA center in Fitzgerald where there were 
classes in the making of trays, brooms, mats and other household equipment. 


During the summer months the construction program went ahead full 
blast. Most of the houses already were completed, so the work was 
centered on the erection of poultry houses, storage houses, and paint- 
ing, wiring and plunging. 

In the past the families couldn't raise many chickens because they 
had no place to keep them. They had no place to store their surplus 
food, and they never had any paint, wiring or plumbing. 

Twenty-five cars of watermelons were shipped. Approximately 50 
barns of tobacco cured. 3200 cans of fruit and vegetables were canned 
in the canning plant and approximately 1800 quart jars were filled at 

In December 1937 the project families made down payments on 30 
sets of bedroom furniture and 25 living room sets. 

This furniture was designed by the Government and built by private 
manufacturers. Of simple, sturdy construction, it met their needs, 
added beauty to their homes, and still was within a price range they 
could afford. 

At the end of 1937 there were 30 families in the community of the 
43 that had made a crop in 1935. An inventory was made of the 30 
families' possessions. 

They had averaged $77 worth of property apiece when they came to 
the project. Now they averaged $415 worth of livestock, $89 of farm 
machinery, $141 feed and seed, $181 furniture, $139 food. Their aver- 
age liabilities were $189. Their average net worth was $778 or a total 

*• 14 - 

increase in net worth of $701 per family. With one exception, they 
had cone from the relief rolls of the surrounding counties, Tift, Worth 
Lenier, Ben Hill, Turner, Berrien, Cook, Cohh, Lowndes and Irwin. 

These 30 families when they started farm operations in 1935, con- 
sisted of 30 married couples, four adult females, 47 girls, and 47 hoys 
Since then 11 children had "been "born, six hoys and five girls. Of the 
older hoys and girls that moved here with their parents, three hoys and 
two girls had married. All three of the hoys were now project farmers 
and making their own way. Due to the higher standard of living and 
"better medical attention, there had "been no deaths in the families. 

The total livestock all the residents had to "begin with was: two 
mules, 15 head of cattle, six hogs, 122 chickens. Now they had: 38 
mules, 116 head of cattle, 483 hogs, 772 chickens. 

The 20 clients that were still in deht to the FSA on January 1, 
1933 owned $4,329, divided as follows: 1936 deht, $1,942; 1937 deht, 
$2 , 58 6. 

The families now operated eight two-horse farms and 22 one-horse 
farms. The operating loans required each spring had decreased each 
year, except where a client "became a two-horse farmer and had to huy 
another mule, and in a few instances where a mule died and had to he 

The Irwinville Farms Health Association "began its activities on 
January 1, 1938. The annual dues were $30 per family. Out of this 
sum, a physician from one of the nearhy towns agreed to provide for 

- 15 - 

the project's medical needs. Seventy-six of the families joined imme- 
diately. The doctor holds a clinic several afternoons of each week and 
furnishes hospitalization, surgical care, x-rays, obstetrical care and 
all ordinary drugs. He had certain hours each afternoon when he was 
available and at other there was a charge of $1 for home calls 
or $2 after 7 p.m. There was also an extra charge for confinement 

Events of community life and growth followed one another in a 
normal way. Early in January one of the community farmers and his 
wife died of pneumonia. 

Before the end of the month 21 new families moved onto the project 
and only two or three additional families were needed to fill the 82 
completed hones. 

All of the project families planted gardens and the men organized 
a mule insurance company. Each client that wished to join paid $1 per 
mule into the fund. If his mule died he was to get its value in cash 
up to $100. This was an invaluable safeguard against getting caught 
without a mule in the middle of a cropping season. 

In May, 1938, the second May Day celebration was held. 

The local branch of the American Legion presented a flag to the 
school and approximately 500 children and parents attended the ceremonies. 
During this month, a group of Georgia teachers visited the project school 
and commented favorably upon its equipment. There was, they found, not 
only a full supply of tables, chairs, mans, globes, books, but also a 


- 16 - 

workshop for the hoys and a home economics room for the girls. They 
found there what seemed to them a good "basis for a healthy mental 
and physical growth. 

The May, 1938, report of the nurse's acitivities is a fair 
sample of every other month, and it is a good example of the load she 
was carrying — 152 home visits, "bedside care, obstetrical assistance, 
prenatal, post natal, communicable disease control, advice and health 
education, follow-up on children showing remedial defects; also eight 
morbidity clinics, three typhoid clinics; assisted in 20 physician 
cases, school activities including eight surgical dressings, classes 
on home nursing for 7th grade girls; monthly reports to State Health 
Department; contact with State health department for spot map on 
hookworm survey; meeting with directors on medical plan; three x-rays; 
pea removed from lung of 11 month old child, which was taken to Atlanta 
hospital for further treatments; demonstration and lecture in club 
meetings on home nursing; 165 doses of typhoid vaccine given; three 
toxoid (diptheria) injection8; two noses packed to stop hemorrhage. 

The canning plant opened May 10th, operating three days a week. 
This plant served only to aid the community families in accumulating a 
store of canned goods. It was not used for commercial production since 
it was only a little, one-room affair. In May, nore than 1300 cans of 
beans were put up. At first a toll of one cent per can on ten per cent 
of the canned products was charged to defray expenses; but later two 
boys and three girls were certified by NYA, as well as one man from WPA, 


17 - 

to help with the canning and the charges were no longer necessary. 

During May dry weather enabled most of the families who "bought 
pressure cookers to keep up canning at home — 1500 quarts total. At 
community club meetings that month the home economist gave demonstra- 
tions with the pressure cooker; the nurse demonstrated serving various 
diets to sick people; each eorr.-.ittee chairman gave reports and sugges- 
tions pertaining to the work of her committee. The new warehouse was 
completed and the contract let for the construction of a retail store 

The end of the crop planting season showed the following crops 
in the ground; 91 acres of tobacco; 600 acres of cotton; 450 acres of 
peanuts; 180 acres of melons for market; 40 acres of snap beans for 
canning; and 2200 acres of corn, peanuts, beans and other crops to feed 
to livestock. 

The University of Georgia announced in June, 1938, that it would 
use Irwinville school as a center for teacher training and would send a 
group of cadet teachers there to help with the school program. The 
state department of education furnished a starting library of 900 books. 

During the same month the co-operative cotton gin was completed. 
Typical of its past was the fact that Irwinville had never had a cotton 
gin. This new one was to bo run by the community cooperative. It was 
the last word in gins. Its new metal sides gave the town proper — that 
is the crossroads — the first real sign of modernity it had had in thirty 
years. The gin was the first of the new community structures to be built. 


- 18 - 

(The warehouses and temporary stores were remodeled structures.) 

At the end of the fiscal year 1937-38 an official accounting of 
project costs was made. Totals were: $622,747 for houses, outbuild- 
ings, sanitation and water supply, land improvement, farmstead land 
cost; $119,501 for community facilities including "buildings, land im- 
provement, utilities, and cost of land devoted to community use; 
$48,119 for surplus land, management operations, taxes and insurance. 

The individual house costs averaged $2,543 for the 39 four- room 
houses; $2,835 for the 14 five-room houses; $2,497 for the 30 houses 
that Resettlement and Farm Security rebuilt. This included all the 
costs that could be attributed to the houses, not only the labor and 
materials but the overhead costs of the construction division both off 
and on the project. 

Description of the houses: no basement; foundations of concrete 
footings with brick piers; termite shields on top of piers and about 
all plumbing lines entering the house; chimney of brick construction 
with terra cotta flue lining; framing of wood construction with excep- 
tion of concrete pre-cast porch steps; exterior walls are building 
paper with wood siding; metal roofs or shingles; interior walls are 
vertical tongue-and-groove lumber; double floors; ceilings are tongue- 
and-groove lumber with ventilation of attic space provided by built-in 
louver. Houses are wired for electricity and all necessary fixtures 
installed. Thirty-four of the houses have sink and hot water tank in 
kitchen; tub, lavatory and toilet in bathroom and septic tank for disposal 


of waste* Most of the rest have all this with the exception of the toile 

The construction division had terraced 3,393 acres and drained 
2,152i The county did all the necessary road work. 

The report showed that 83 farmstead units had been built or re- 
paired. These units averaged 76 acres or a total of 6,367, nearly 60 
per cent of the total area of the community. Community facilities took 
up 67 acres; roads and highways 197 acres; 643 acres were reserved for 
future development. Streams and waste land accounted for 3,507 acres. 
This made a total of 10,782 acres. 

The report also stated: "Under the program of the Georgia Emer- 
gency Relief Administration, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, 
and the Georgia Rural Rehabilitation Corporation, seven houses, 15 barns 
and miscellaneous dwelling repairs were started. ... The Resettlement Ad- 
ministration completed the buildings begun by these prior agencies, 
built 19 additional new houses, made permanent repairs on 22 existing 
houses, built necessary outbuildings and drilled wells for a total of 48 
units.... The Farm Security Administration constructed an additional 34 
units and repaired a house on one existing unit bringing the total de- 
veloped units to 83... 

"A typical farm unit consists of house, barn, smoke house, and 
poultr;/ house with deep well, electric Trump and well house. Thirteen 
units have cotton houses, 34 have tobacco barns, 49 have privies and 
34 have septic tanks. All units have barnyard, garden, ooultry yard and 
pasture fencing." 


- 20 - 

In the construction of the new houses, approximately 48 per cent of 
the cost went for material, 41 per cent for labor, 10 nor cent for 
general construction expense and less than one per cent for equipment. 

Construction was not entirely complete; the store, medical center, 
and the combination gym and auditorium were not yet finished, but they 
were being built under contract. (Farm Security's construction program 
all over the country was nearing an end and the construction division 
rapidly being liauidated; further construction was nearly all by con- 

During August, the cooperative gin served not only the project 
families but a large number of neighboring farmers. After cotton har- 
vest, several group planning meetings were held. At these meetings 
the families made out their farm and home management plans for the 
coming year. By assembling in groups of ten or fifteen and working 
them out together they saved time and the families gained a better 
understanding of the similarity of their problems, a stronger feeling 
of kinship. 

In October, the Health Building was completed and new equipment 
installed. This brick building hae a waiting room, a doctor's office, 
a treatment room where bones can be set and emergency operations per- 
formed, a laboratory, a room where some day a dentist may have his of- 
fice. It also has offices for the community manager. The nurse is on 
duty every day and the doctor has clinics twice a week and can always 
be reached through the nurse in an emergency. 

- 21 - 

Two hundred and five pupils were enrolled in the school for the 
fall session. There were several meetings of the PTA. 

At the end of 1938 there was another accounting of the progress 
of the families. There were now 28 families who have been in the com- 
munity since the start. They owned an average of $232 worth of live- 
stock; $119 of cattle; $126 of hogs; $22 of poultry; $115 of farm 
equipment; $147 of feed and seed; $263 of household furniture; $231 
of stored food. This gave them a total of $1,258 in assets. Their 
liabilities average $270, Their not worth $983. This was an average 
increase of $909. 

The community manager in his year ond report noted that the fami- 
lies had canned an average of 319 quarts per family. There was an 
average of 5.6 persons per family. Hookworm survey showed 45 percent 
prevalence. About 57 percent of the families kept complete records; 
43 percent of the families kept partial records. 

The original farm plan had been for each one-horse farmer to have 
five acres of cotton, four acres of noanuts, one acre of tobacco, one 
to two acres of truck crops, or 30 acres of cultivated land for money 
crops and approximately 18 acres in food and feed crops. A two-horse 
farmer would have roughly twice as much of everything. 

This plan had been followed closely, except that AAA cut down 
tobacco to .75 of an acre. For 1939 the plan was changed slightly, by 
having every farmer raise ten hogs and one beef steer for market. 

- 22 - 

The cash crop sales were as follows: 

Tobacco — 92 acres 
Cotton - 650 acres 
Peanuts - 550 acres 
Melons — 185 acres 
Livestock sales 



Truck Crop Sales 


Of the 28 families who have been on the farms since 1935, the aver- 
age net worth of the two-horse farmers is $1,326, while the average net 
worth of the one-horse farmers is $695. This wide difference between 
the one-horse and the two-horse farms was due partly to the natural 
difference in productivity of the farms and partly to the ability of 
the farmers. During the years the most capable of the farmers had been 
shifted to two-horse units. 

In March, 1939, W. T. Anderson, editor of the Macon Telegraph 
started a feature story on Irwinville with these words: "Believe it 
or not, I have found something in the New Deal which I can approve." 

A vocational agricultural program which was started in January, 
1939, had home projects for all its boys in the Spring of that year. 
This was the only grammar school in the state that had a program for 
boys clear down to the fifth grade. 

The home projects are selected by the boy, the teacher, and the 
parents. Most of the boys had projects of from one to three acres of 
corn, runner peanuts, and velvet beans (a feed program that gets the 
most from the soil with a minimum of damage to its strength). They 
were also buying pigs for breeding, and some of them were fattening 



- 23 

Boys have access to a workshop which carries a full line of 
wood and metal working tools. This shop is also open to their fathers. 
At several meetings, the farmers studied control of internal para- 
sites in hogs, control of "blue mould in tobacco beds, establishment 
of a one variety cotton community. 

Several swine sanitation projects were gotten underway. These 
projects were developed to show the benefits of raising hogs that 
are protected in their feeding and housing from parasites. It was 
hoped that the success of a few farmers with these projects would 
encourage others to follow their lead. 


This brings Irwinville up to March, 1939. The following is a 
general description of the community at that time: 


Irwinville is off the main road and part of it looks really 
"back country." (There's a swamp in the area that is full of grey, 
boney-looking tree trunks and black nd Spanish moss.) But 

it's rich-looking country as a whole. 

The plantation house on the edge of town is two stories high 
with a double veranda, a wing on one side, and a dining room and 
kitchen that ramble off to the rear. The rooms are large and have 
ten-foot ceilings and fireplaces. The hallway and back porches are 
wide and break the house into sections, to aid ventilation. It 
furnishes a striking contrast to the newer farm hones. The planta- 

- 24 - 

> tion house was owned and lived in for many years "by a wealthy man, yet 
it has single flooring, and no fireplace or any other means of heat on 
the second floor. (In the owner's day it had no inside toilet or run- 
ning water.) 

The cooperative store building is made of "brick with plaster walls 
and a composition floor; one story, no basement. The building has one 
long room for the store and two smaller offices that serve as the co- 
operative office and the gas station office. It has two toilets. 

Water tank and an electric pumping station serve the community 

The old three-story brick jail is caving in, but a transient family 
lives in the bottom story. Woman said she hadn't lived there long and 
commented that when she first came to the town "everything was poor — 
since then there's been a boom." She looked ragged but her seven-year- 
old girl was neat and lovely. 

The old court house is now empty. It served as headquarters for 
the construction division during development of the project, and was also 
the community center; the health clinics and dances were held there. How 
it holds only the meetings of the Woodmen of the World (75 members). 

There is a private gas station, an old Masonic Building, a 
Baptist Church, three school buildings, a private grocery store, a new 
office building and clinic, an old office (the deserted bank), cotton 
gin, water tank and pump house, warehouse, seed house, new store building. 

- 25 ~ 

Just outside the farms, a"bout a mile from the community center is 
Crystal Lake. It is a "beautiful place, with a lake that is at least a 
half-mile long, fed "by springs, and "bordered "by a white sand "beach and 
a wood covered with Spanish moss. 

Newest of the community's clubs is the Irwinville Home Improvement 
Club. It meets in five sections every week and all together once a 
month. It's a combination of the health, education, home supervisor, 
and home economist activities* This combining of activities and break- 
ing up into sections it is thought, will bring the greatest degree of 
efficiency and cooperation. The meetings are well attended. 

One of the largest children's groups is the Sunday School class 
which is non-denominational, and is taught by the project manager's wife. 
It meets every Sunday afternoon in the school auditorium. 

The men have regular meetings of their branch of the Woodmen of the 


There are three buildings for the school. One is the old remodeled 
brick two-story school house. It has classrooms for eight grades, a 
library with 800 books in it. The second is the completely equipped 
farm workshop. The third is the new gymnasium — its basketball court 
can be converted into an auditorium seating at least 500 people with a 
large stage at one end. It is built of brick with white pillars in 
front. It also contains one of the best equipped home economics class- 



- 26 - 

rooms in the country (four stoves — electric, wood, and two oil — 
an electric ice "box, two sinks with running water, four kitchen tables, 
four "big wood card tables, wood panelled walls, high ceilings, full 
length mirrors, a sewing machine, a day bed.) Here girls from the 
fifth to eighth grade are taught home economics for the first time in 
the history of the state. It was formerly a high school subject — and 
few farm girls completed high school. 

The co-op runs the gin, the store, the seed cleaner, and a mule 
insurance association. It also buys a major part of the farmers' ferti- 
liser and seed and sells their cotton and tobacco. Practically all 
residents belong to it. 



The total amount spent in building Irwinville as given in the cost 
report of June 30, 1938 was $866,882. Of this amount approximately 
$244,000 was used for community buildings, the surplus land, and the 
non-capital items such as management and taxes. The remainder, $622,747, 
waa the amount spent for buying land, erecting the houses and getting 
the farms ready to be worked. 

It is estimated that a large part of this latter cost, that of de- 
veloping the farms, will be paid back to the Government in rentals or 
in purchase payments on the farms, over a period of forty years. The 
I average rental at the present time is $140 a year. The remainder of the 

farm cost as well as the community development expenses will probably 
have to be written off. 

This write-off will for the most part be charged to the experimen- 
tal side of tho community. Irwinville is a new type of venture and with 
its fellow communities served as a proving ground for methods and means 
of farm community development. In the erection of these communities, 
methods of house and barn construction were evolved that now make it 
possible to build four and five room frame houses for as low as $1100 
each; a personnel wan trained in the hitherto untouched field of com- 
munity management; efficient procedures were developed for handling the 
work all the way from the Washington office down through the regional 
office to the community site; in other words the groundwork was laid so 
that in many of the communities that followed Irwinville, expenses were 
at a minimum and the Government expects to be paid back the whole or 
nearly the whole amount spent for development. 

Aside from the sums listed above, the only other amounts involved 
in the development of Irwinville were a $63,000 loan to the cooperative 
and the spring loans to the individual farmers for operating expenses. 
These amounts are expected to be repaid in full. 

It is still rather early to attempt to evaluate the whole worth of 
Irwinville. There are, however, several factors that may be taken as a 
partial measure of the progress made. The average net worth of tho 
families who have been in their homesteads since 1935, for instance. 
They have averaged an increase in net worth of approximately $1,000. 

- 28 - 

The higher standard of living of the families is another; likewise, their 
improvement in health. The attitude of the children is a third; inde- 
pendent and straightforward in their actions and appearance, the chil- 
dren give direct evidence of "being able to make their own way and take 
their place in the Government of "both their community and their nation. 



The following pages recite brief histories of several typical fami- 
lies as reported "by a visitor to the project. 

B. C. Traylor : In the early twenties Traylor farmed in Alabama. 
He sold his farm tools and went to Florida in the boom days of 1924-25-26; 
there he got a job as a policeman. In 1927-28-29 he half-cropped in 
Tift County, Georgia. In 1930-31, he worked for a farmer near Alapaha 
in Berrien County, Georgia. In 1932, he half-cropped in Tift County. 
In 1933-34, he received a few dollars from relief and the CWA. In the 
early part of 1935, Mr. ana Mrs. Traylor and their five children moved 
to Irwinville from Tift County. They had a cow, twelve chickens, and 
some small tools. They also had some furniture. All was valued at $100. 

Mr. Traylor' s financial statement on January 1, 1938, was as follows: 
Farm machinery $97.50 — work stock $200 — cattle $350 ~ hogs $255 — 
poultry $54 — feed and seed $375 — furniture $100 — food $246.95 — 
total assets $1,678.45. His only liability was a $50 doctor bill. His 
increase in net worth was $1,528.45. 

In March, 1939, one daughter was in College at Tifton, Georgia, 
one son was married and employed as a carpenter at Oscilla. At this 
time Traylor had 20 head of hogs, a team of mules, a large flock of 
chickens, some turkeys, about 14 head of cattle. 

In 1937, his loan was $235. In 1938 it was $535 (mule died). In 
1939, it was $345 (fertilizer accounts for $200 of this loan). 

He has "been a two-horse farmer all of the time at Irwinville. His 
house is well landscaped (yard full of "bushes and a good hedge). His 
Irish potatoes and peas and onions ire up in his garden. When his new 
barn was built he saved the old one by moving it back in the field. 
His boys are carrying on a hog sanitation project. 

Chester Foster ; The first family to move to the community and one 
of the most cooperative. In 1925-27 he rented. In 1928 the hail hit 
his 10 acres of tobacco and the insurance just cleared the expenses. In 
1929, he raised tobacco, peanuts, cotton, and corn. In 1930, he moved 
to Calhoun County, Florida, had 30 acres of tobacco, put in $1000 and 
lost $1500. In 1932, moved to Cobb County, Georgia, raised potatoes on 
shares and barely made expenses (that year Mrs. Foster had an appendiciti 
operation). In 1933, was foreman of a road project under CWA. In 1934, 
was renting 20 acres and a house for $6 a month. When I visited the 
Foster home, it was in immaculate condition. The house-wife had covered 
a big box with chintz for a table, and made a chair out of a soap box. 
One of Foster's former landlords said that he had liked Foster as a 
farmer and would have kept him if he hadn't had a chance to sell the farm 

- 30 - 

When they cane to Irwinville in 1935, he was 24, his wife, Becky, 
26, Herman 7, Marcell 4, Doug l-§ — all in good health. They had fur- 
niture valued at $100. That was all they owned. 

In 1937, they changed from one-horse to two-horse farming. In Jan- 
uary, 1938, they owned the following: Work stock $150 — farm machinery 
$82.50 — cattle $60 — hogs $75 — poultry $20 — feed and seed $215 — 
furniture $200 — food $106.68 — total assets were $909.36. They had 
no liabilities. Their net worth increase since they came to Irwinville 
was $809.36. 

Harvey Evans ? Evans was horn in 1900 in Turner County. Obtained a 
7th grade education. Married in 1918. Sharecropped father's farm until 
1925. In 1925-26, sharecropped with S. B. Bryan and Company. In 1927-28-29 
rented. In 1930, rented another farm. In 1931 went to Florida and 
worked in cannery for $24 per week. In 1932-33 sharecropped with father. 
In 1934 went on relief, got food hut lacked clothes, owed doctor bill. 
In January, 1934 his wife died. At that time he had five children — 
Velna 15, Winford 13, Marguerite 11, Oveidue 9, Betty 3. That year the 
grandmother looked after the family. In March, 1935, Evans remarried. 

In January, 1936, when he came to Irwinville, Evans had $140 worth 
of worldly goods, $100 of which v/as household goods. 

He received a loan of $600 which he has repaid, as well as all of 
his subsequent loans. 

Evans now has (March, 1939) assets of $1,584, a good pair of mules, 
$371 in household goods, $288 food, $87 hogs. His only debt is furniture, 

$24. His net increase in worth is $1,400. He has "been a two-horse 
farmer all the tine. 

Jeff Singletary; From 1930 to January, 1933, he sharecropped in Thomas 
County — 1933 to June, 1934, sharecropped in Colquitt County — at 
that time the crop looked so poor and the market so had he cashed in 
his chips and gave up. The rest of 1934 and 1935 he had no regular em- 
ployment — just income from garden, odd johs and relief. He got free 
fuel "by cutting wood. Acquired no dehts. Singletary was 26 when he 
moved to the community in January, 1936. At that time he had $100 of 
household goods and that was all. In January, 1939, he had assets of 
$1,365 including $300 work stock, $140 cattle (eight head, of which three 
are milk cows), $70 hogs, $254 food. He owed $460 — had a net worth in- 
crease of $803. He changed from a one-horse farm to a two-horse in 1937. 


PB 9/14/39.